Warning: Major Barbarian spoilers ahead!
Zach Cregger broke a golden screenwriting rule when working on Barbarian, his new hit about a young woman, Tess (Georgina Campbell), who shows up at her Airbnb to find it’s been double-booked — only to discover the real horror is lurking in the Detroit home’s secret basement maze. He didn’t write an outline first, literally making it up as he went along.
“I had written Tess down into the basement and I was like, ‘What should happen?'” the Whitest Kids U Know comedian-turned-genre-director tells Yahoo Entertainment during a recent interview (watch above).
The answer for Cregger, obviously, was “giant naked lady appears out of the darkness and smashes the head of Tess’s new roommate (Bill Skarsgård) to smithereens.”
The freakishly terrifying “The Mother,” as she’s known — a character actually played by a man, Matthew Patrick Davis — is one of the major reasons Barbarian is being hailed a must-see horror sensation.
As Cregger explains, Mother is based off of sketches of Grendel’s Mother from a version of the classic story Beowulf that he read as a child.
“It’s an image that has stuck with me my whole life,” he says. “And I used that image to basically give to my creature designers and we went off and running from that.”
In one of the film’s most shocking scenes, Mother, the descendant of the serial rapist/killer who’s long lived in the rental’s bowels, attempts to breastfeed the home’s owner, the canceled actor A.J. (Justin Long).
But Cregger says that’s not even the most stomach-turning scene they filmed.
“There was a scene that was cut from the movie where she grabs a rat, chews it up and baby-birds him with the rat,” the director reveals. “I took it out of the script when we sent it to Justin because I didn’t want him to not take the role. But I was like, ‘When he gets to Bulgaria, I will see if I can talk him into it. And so I very delicately tried to broach it. ... And he was like, ‘We have to do that. We have to do that.’ He was so onboard. He’s the best.”
Look for the scene to be an included in the extras of Barbarian’s Blu-ray release once it’s done scaring audiences in theaters.
Barbarian is now playing.
—Video produced by Kat Vasquez and edited by Luis Saenz
Watch our previous interview with Cregger and cast: